17 Class A Public teams have new head coaches

ajc.com

Number of hires: 17

Best hire: Sid Fritts, Washington-Wilkes

Hardest to replace: Buddy Nobles, Irwin County

Best job: Lincoln County

Toughest job: Stewart County

Most interesting: Lincoln County, Georgia’s most storied Class A program, is still seeking the right fit since the 2013 retirement of Larry Campbell, who won 11 state titles. Michael Pollock stepped down after two seasons despite a 9-3 record and the Red Devils’ first state quarterfinal finish since Campbell. The school has turned to Lee Chomskis, the former Vidalia coach who spent much of his childhood in Lincolnton and was an assistant on the 2005 and 2006 state-championship teams. Larry Campbell was Chomskis’ Little League baseball coach, and Chomskis’ mother was a Lincoln County homecoming queen. Chomskis is a nephew of Dan Pitts, a former Lincolnton High all-state player who became the state’s winningest coach at Mary Persons, his record later broken by Campbell.

Region 1

*Baconton Charter hired Miller County coach David Bell to replace Parker Rentz. Bell was 10-8 in two seasons with Miller, his alma mater. Baconton was 4-6 last season, its best finish since starting football in 2010. Rentz is now on Worth County’s staff.

*Miller County promoted defensive coordinator Nate George to replace David Bell, who became head coach at Baconton Charter. George played at Miller County and was part of three Division II national championship teams at North Alabama in the early 1990s. He has coached only at his alma mater.

*Pataula Charter hired former Schley County principal Todd West to replace Richard Andrews. West came out of retirement to coach in his hometown, Edison. Andrews is now Elbert County’s secondary coach and weight-room coordinator.

Region 2

*Irwin County promoted interim head coach Casey Soliday to succeed Buddy Nobles, who passed away in January after a six-month battle with cancer. Soliday had been Irwin’s defensive coordinator the past three seasons, and this will be his fifth season overall at Irwin. Soliday previously coached at Turner County, Americus-Sumter, Perry and Henry County.

*Turner County hired Coffee offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kevious Johnson to replace Nick Hayes. Johnson, on Coffee’s staff since 2012, played at Fitzgerald and became a four-year starting running back at Wofford, where he was inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame in 2013. Turner County was 7-5 in one season under Hayes, who is now on Wayne County’s staff.

Region 3

*Bryan County hired Warren County coach Cherard Freeman to replace Abram Scott, who is now an assistant principal at Southeast Bulloch. Freeman’s record is 26-57, but he led Warren in 2019 to its first playoff wins and quarterfinal appearance since 2007 despite losing his best player, Georgia-committed running back Lovasea Carroll, to IMG Academy. Freeman is a former standout running back at Lincoln County and Georgia Southern. Bryan County was 0-9 in Class 2A last seasons and most recently made the playoffs in 2015. The Redskins will be playing in Class A for the first time since 2011.

Region 4

*Dooly County hired Elbert County defensive coordinator Phillip Hale to replace interim coach Quinnen Peavy. Hale was on Colquitt County’s staff in 2018 as safeties coach. He has also coached at North Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett. Archer, Shiloh and Peachtree Ridge. Dooly was 4-6 last season. Peavy is now on the staff at Central of Macon. The original head coach, Ashley Harden, now on Ola’s staff, resigned after one game.

*Wheeler County hired Robert Toombs Academy head coach Thomas Smith to replace Tim McArthur, who remained as associate athletic director and boys basketball coach. Smith’s record at Toombs was 64-48 over 10 seasons. His 2013 team won a GISA Class A championship.

Region 5

*Chattahoochee County hired former Spencer head coach and recent Baker Middle assistant principal Pierre Coffey to replace Jody Allen. Coffee’s Spencer teams were 19-15 from 2015 to 2017, the best three-year run in 50 years for the Columbus school. Coffee has been an assistant at Carver of Columbus and Greenville. Allen is now Chattahoochee County’s alternative school director.

*Manchester hired East Lawrence (Ala.) head coach James Moore to replace Evan Hochstetler. Moore led East Lawrence to a 5-5 finish and its first non-losing season in 22 years last year. Moore also has been a head coach in Mississippi. Hochstetler, let go despite a 10-3 finish last season, is now Cedartown’s offensive coordinator.

*Marion County promoted defensive assistant Billy Law to replace Chris Kirksey, who took a job at Byron Middle School in Peach County. Law has coached at Marion since its days as Tri-County before 2006 and through seven region titles and one state championship. Marion County was the Class A Public runner-up in 2019.

*Stewart County hired Manchester Middle School coach Calvin Thomas to replace Roderick Martin, who is now coaching girls basketball at Columbus. Stewart County, the smallest GHSA football-playing school, canceled its season last week over COVID-19 concerns. Thomas, a former Tuskegee basketball star, also is Stewart's boys basketball coach.

Region 6

*Trion hired Bleckley County offensive coordinator Sean Patrick to replace Justin Brown, whose teams were 53-36 in eight seasons. Patrick was on ECI’s staff during the 2006 Class A championship. He was Houston County’s offensive coordinator during Jake Fromm’s time there. Patrick also has worked on Lincoln County’s staff. Trion was 5-6 in 2019. Brown is now coaching Sequoyah’s running backs.

Region 7

None

Region 8

*Lincoln County hired Vidalia head coach Lee Chomskis to replace Michael Pollock, who retired and took over his family’s pecan farm in Camilla. Chomskis’ record at Vidalia was 101-45 with two region titles and a school-record eight consecutive playoff appearances.

*Social Circle hired Collins Hill defensive coordinator Rob Patton to replace Chad Estes, who is now Monticello’s defensive coordinator. Patton coached at Collins Hill the past two seasons. He was on Grayson’s staff for eight years and through the 2011 and 2016 state championship seasons and was the defensive coordinator on the ’16 team.

*Warren County promoted assistant Steven Simpson to replace Cherard Freeman, who took the Bryan County job. Simpson had been head coach of Georgia Military, where he compiled a 19-41 record across six seasons. Simpson also has been on staffs at Briarwood Academy, Wilkinson County and Dublin, including Dublin’s 2006 Class 2A championship team.

*Washington-Wilkes promoted Sid Fritts to replace T.C. Jay, who resigned in June amid allegations of personal misconduct. Fritts has won 236 games in 30 seasons as a head coach and claimed four region titles at Vidalia and two each at Rome and Elbert County. He’s one of four coaches in GHSA history to win multiple region titles at three schools. He stepped down at Elbert after the 2018 season and coached one season at Washington-Wilkes under Jay, whose team was 6-5 in his only season. Jay is not coaching this fall.

Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.

About the Author